Science Market Update

Five Best Blogs of 2011: Michigan is Alive and Well, Say Street Dancers and Economic Gardeners

Posted by Jaimee Saliba on Tue, Dec 27, 2011

Originally published in June of 2011, we're reprinting this blog because watching thousands of people dance and sing makes us happy, and for those folks currently shoveling snow it's a reminder that summer will come again one day! --12/23/2011

Two big things have happened in Michigan this past week to declare to the world that the state's economy has not gone the way of the Edsel:

  1. The monumental Grand Rapids Lip Dub Video street festival "American Pie" event
  2. A $3 billion public-private business initiative announced by Governor Snyder at the Mackinac Policy Conference, strengthening the economic gardening philosophy he has been promoting


If you haven't yet watched the 9-minute video (above), you're in for a treat.  The background story involves a Newsweek Article in January that listed Grand Rapids among "America's Dying Cities," based upon certain economic indicators the study used.

The problem with statistics is that they're potentially so wrong, precisely because they don't take the human spirit into account.  Setting out to show the world that Newsweek's analysts were dead wrong, a group of Grand Rapids citizens mobilized.  The result is the now-famous Lip Dub Video, which aired over Memorial Day Weekend and has already been watched by over 2.3 million viewers.  NPR reported on this method of taking the message to the streets:

It's a little counterintuitive, but a massive crowd ballet that specifically identifies no one turns out to be a surprisingly powerful translation of an impersonal economic projection into a story about individual people.




The concept of economic gardening refers to focusing development resources on "homegrown" businesses rather than looking outside the community (and state, and country) for big businesses to come in and bring jobs with them.  This reorientation means supporting entrepreneurs, small business owners, and 2nd stage businesses through tax incentives and bank loan availability.

Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a series of initiatives to support Michigan's economic gardening--a term he did not invent but has adopted to describe his approach to growing the state's economy: from the ground up.

Among the initiatives was a key state measure leveling the state's business tax to a flat 6% for companies of any size, evening the playing field for small and growing businesses that complained they were being taxed twice.

From the private sector came important pledges by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), banks, and other large corporations to create incentives, buy locally, and make growth funds available, namely:

  • $100 million in economic development incentives
  • $25 million for entrepreneurship and innovation programs that provide capital and support services to early stage Michigan businesses
  • $80 million to generate an additional $800 million in Michigan bank loans for Michigan businesses
  • $2 billion in lending over four years committed by Huntington National Bank for commercial and small Michigan-based companies
  • $250 million pledge over five years by Consumer's Energy to purchase additional goods and services from Michigan-based suppliers
  • Similar $250 million pledge by DTE Energy to purchase goods and services from Michigan-based suppliers
  • $100 million pledge of second stage funding for Michigan businesses with innovative technologies to accelerate large-scale commercialization by Stage 2 Innovations, a private investment group headed by former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda

All of which bodes very well for Michigan's innovation economy, which we have reported on in two other recent Science Market Update blogs related to developing technologies created at the University of Michigan's massive research campus in Ann Arbor:

University of Michigan Opens 174 Acre Research Campus Complex

Science Marketing Central at U of Michigan Entrepreneur Program

Science research is the foundation of the home-bred tech economy Michigan is helping to make possible through the recent initiatives. If you are a laboratory supply representative, PI, lab researcher, or other life science professional, the best place to network with the people who make your job possible is at a Biotechnology Calendar BioResearch Product Faire™ Event.  Plan on attending both the University of Michigan and Michigan State campus shows this July, 2012:

michigan researchmichigan state research

Tags: Midwest, Michigan, Research Funding, industry news

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